Comic relief

Both John McCain and Barack Obama attended the Al Smith dinner, a traditional gathering of mostly New York Democrats devoted mainly to humor. Both candidates gave funny, self-deprecating speeches. A sample:

“This is a very distinguished and influential audience and as good a place as any to make a major announcement,” McCain said. “Events are moving fast in my campaign. And, yes, it is true that this morning I dismissed my entire team of senior advisors. All of their positions will now be held by a man named ‘Joe The Plumber.’

“Already my friends, my opponents have been subjecting Joe to their vicious attack machine. His voracity has been questioned by Barack Obama’s running mate, ‘Joe The 6-Term Senator.’ He claims that this honest, hard working small business man could not possibly have enough income to face a tax increase under the Obama plan. What they don’t know is Joe The Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses.” . . .

“This campaign needed the common touch of the working man. After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of the man known to Oprah Winfrey as ‘The One.’ Being a friend and colleague of Barack I just called him ‘That One,’” McCain said in reference to his bully-like tactics in the second presidential debate. “He doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me: ‘George Bush.’” . . . .

“It’s been that kind of contest and I come here tonight to the Al Smith Dinner knowing I’m the underdog in these final weeks, but if you know where to look there are signs of hope, even in the most unexpected of places, even in the room filled with proud Manhattan Democrats. I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me.

“I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.” . . .

Obama later took the podium and said he’s not necessarily “the chosen one,” but could in fact be a superhero.

“For the last few weeks John has been out on the campaign trail asking this question: Who is Barack Obama? I have to admit I was a little surprised by this question. The answer is right there on my Facebook page,” Obama said. “But look, I don’t want to be coy about this. We’re a couple weeks away from an important election. Americans have a big choice to make, and if anyone feels like they don’t know me by now, let me give them some answers …

“Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”

He then launched into the genealogy of his birth name.

“Many of you know I got my name, Barack, from my father,” Obama said. “It’s actually Swahili for ‘That One.’

“And I got my middle name, obviously, from someone who never thought I’d be running for president.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • J

    I’m glad to see the humor, but I suspect this must be tough for the most ardent McCain/Palin troops to watch. If Palin is right that the mysterious ‘not-like-us’ Obama ‘pals around with terrorists,’ calls for abortions all the time and everywhere, and hates all things American, you must wonder how her mate McCain can call him a ‘decent family man’ and joke with him like this.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    I loved watching those clips this morning. I hope to see more. It was a bright spot in the campaign! I admire them both more now than previously…of course, Obama had further to go than McCain (in my opinion, of course).

  • J

    Great point, TK; this sort of event ‘humanizes’ the candidates, and the one that you or I don’t support is the one that we usually think needs to be ‘humanized.’ :)
    As for comment @1, my point was to suggest that the campaign rhetoric is way overblown and ought to be toned down.

  • Don S

    The sad thing is that the Obama attack machine really IS trying to destroy “Joe the Plumber”.

  • J

    Don, I’ve got a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

  • CRB

    Does anyone know who wrote these jokes, certainly not the candidates?!

  • CRB

    What really would have been funny is seeing Joe the plumber come in with this t-shirt on! :)

    http://www.werescrewed08.com/

  • Don S

    J @ 5: I don’t know what you meant by your snarky comment about the bridge, but I was serious about my comment. Example here in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/us/politics/17joe.html?_r=1&ref=politics&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

    The campaign and the media are actually going after Joe the Plumber to try to discredit him. But here’s the point — it’s not the question Joe asked but rather Obama’s answer that was so significant in revealing Obama’s true motivations. This will turn out to be a very significant gaffe in this election

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Don – lighten up. Can’t you just enjoy good humour, from both sides, for ONE post? The concerns you have could be handled under another post, no?

  • Don S

    Scylding @ 9: Ha, ha, I guess I just missed how hilarious J’s original post @ 1 really was. And that bridge bit — what a hoot!

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Don – your sarcasm ain’t veiled at all.

    Let’s just have an honest laugh?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    We haven’t seen much else but jokes pretty much all campaign long. Will it ever end?!

  • Anon

    McCain was hilarious – even Hillary was in stitches. BO seemed to me to be just bitter and angry. That wasn’t actual humor. At least, that is how it seemed to me. McCain could have a future on the Comedy Channel replacing the Cober Repor.

    If only McCain could have been that on his game in the debates!

    J.,

    McCain is a gracious man. Something that is increasingly rare in our country. BHO did not return the favor.

  • Carl Vehse
  • kerner

    J @1:

    It’s possible to see Obama as more of an ambitious politician than a dedicated revolutionary without forgetting that his past associations are bound to affect his future decisions. Obama pretty much went along to get along with his Highland Park left wing supporters, his liberation theology church and the Chicago Democratic Party machine (I have never heard of him changing one thing about any of those organizations). So I am less worried than a lot of other conservatives about Obama ruining the country. But I believe he will harm it. When so many of your associates are so extremely leftist, it will simply be very difficult to avoid reacting in a left wing way to every problem.

    What will Obama do when the American people don’t want to go along with his ideas? Bill Clinton modified his policies in 1994 when (after trying to socialize this country, he found himself with a republican Congress) so that he did a lot less damage, and stayed in the White House. Maybe Obama will too.

    I think It is McCain’s nature to put the best construction on others when he can. I’d like to claim credit for the Lutheran grade schools his younger children attended, but I think it goes deeper than that.

    Scylding:

    Easy for you to laugh and have fun. The conservatives won the election in Canada, eh? ;)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X